Could coffee replace insulin for diabetes sufferers?

Diabetes can be a limiting condition, especially for those who need to inject themselves with regular doses of insulin. The introduction of the insulin pen in the 1980s proved a big step forwards, as people could dispense their own doses quickly and easily while on the move. Now, researchers at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology believe they may be on the verge of making another breakthrough which could replace the insulin pen.

The new research involves inserting an implant under the skin of patients. The implant contains hundreds of thousands of specially designed cells, which will pump out a drug when triggered by caffeine. So far, tests have shown that the implant is capable of controlling blood sugar levels when triggered by caffeine. Raising or lowering the dose was simply achieved by varying the strength of the coffee. Researchers created the specially modified human cells to make a diabetes drug called GLP-1. The drug then stimulates the patient’s own pancreas to produce natural insulin. The process is triggered when the cells detect caffeine in the bloodstream.

The research team checked the process by using different drinks as the trigger, including chocolate milkshakes, herbal tea, cola and coffee. They established that the larger the amount of caffeine present in the drink, the more strongly the process was triggered.

The scientific team are enthusiastic about their discovery, as it fits in well to most people’s lifestyle and removes the need for an insulin dose. Depending on how much of the drug you need to control your blood sugar, just drinking a coffee after every meal could be enough. However, it’s unlikely the implant could be hitting the human healthcare market any time soon. Researchers believe there are still many years of study to go before it’s signed off as safe and effective.

We love the idea that coffee could become a key part in controlling diabetes, but in the meantime we’ll continue to enjoy it for its own sake. Here at rijo42, we sell some of the best coffee in the country for your office, restaurant or café. Find out more at our website at